Monday, August 24, 2009

Culinary Awakening!

Since the release of the movie Julie & Julia, I have had several people come into the bookstore with requests for books related to the movie. The movie is based on two memoirs, the first being Julie & Julia by Julie Powell and My Life in France by Julia Child. The movie tackles both Julia Child's story of her start in the cooking profession and the story of blogger Julie Powell's 2002 challenge to cook all the recipes in Child's first book.

The book request that I get most often though, and love getting the most is when I have people ask for Julia Child's actual cookbook: Mastering the Art of French Cooking. The idea that someone has been inspired by either the books or the movie to try their own hand at cooking makes me all warm and fuzzy on the inside.

Seeing the culinary awakening of others makes me remember my own foray into the world of gourmet. I was also inspired by a book, but not one of the above. It was a compilation of 5 previously published books: Serve it Forth, Consider the Oyster (my personal favorite), How to Cook a Wolf, The Gastronomical Me, and An Alphabet for Gourmets. Together, these books are: The Art of Eating by M. F. K. Fisher.

Mary Frances Kennedy Fisher was actually a friend of Julia Child's, in fact Julia once said of her,

"Mary Frances has the extraordinary ability to make the ordinary seem rich and wonderful. Her dignity comes from her absolute insistence on appreciating life as it comes to her."

I couldn't agree more. Where Julia Child was a Gourmet and a chef, Mary called herself a Gourmand: someone who takes great pleasure in food. She's basically a glutton with discerning taste. Reading these books opened my eyes, my world, and my palate. Her prose is beautiful and littered with recipes and stories both hilarious and tragic.

Ms. Fisher was my Julia Child. She took me from a life of prepackaged, frozen food, to a life where I can whip up an exotic four course meal just for fun, or I can head down to the Bittercreek Alehouse and really appreciate, gush over even, the goat cheese and local honeycomb. So, seeing other people scanning the hallowed pages of Julia's cookbook, beginning their own culinary journey is ridiculously fun to be a part of. Cheers!



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